Mental Models and Tacit Knowledge

With the emergence of Farnam Street, mental models are more popular than ever. Our web of mental models shape how we understand the world. Especially in the information age, mental models are information sieves seperating the signal from the noise. Generally speaking, mental models are easy to learn and are applicable across domains.

For example, feedback loops are a concept in systems theory were the outputs of a system are routed to the inputs. Whenever I’m learning or building something, I keep the feedback loop short because I find shorter iterations drives learning.

On the other hand, we have tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is knowledge that can’t be captured through words. For example, riding a bike. You can try to explain to someone how to ride a bike but you just have to go out there and do it.

In product management, there’s a ton of useful mental models out there. But product sense - the ability to understand what makes great products useful and well loved by users - comes through years of experiences. There’s no shortcuts to tacit knowledge.

September 21, 2021

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